Billeder på siden

Ocean. The first reward of Tasman's exertions was the discovery of an island, which he named, in honour of his patron, Van Diemen's Land.

After examining the coasts with some attention, he proceeded towards the east, and when in latitude 38° 10' S., and longitude 167° 21' E., he again saw land about a degree to the south-south-east. It was not, however, till he had attained the northern extremity of it that any inhabitants appeared, who, sounding a trumpet, probably composed of a shell, attracted his attention to an address which, being uttered in a strange dialect, he could not understand. He describes them as being of common stature and strong boned, their colour between brown and yellow, and their hair black, which they wore tied up on the crown of the head, like the Japanese, each having a large white feather stuck upright in it. Their vessels were double canoes fastened together by cross planks, on which they sat. It is remarked, that their language bore no resemblance to that used in the Solomon Islands, with a vocabulary of which Tasman had been furnished at Batavia. Notwithstanding his earnest desire to secure their good opinion, he could not prevent an attack upon a boat's crew, which occasioned to him the loss of several lives.

Having no hope of being able to establish a friendly intercourse, he left the “ Bay of Murderers,” and proceeded towards the north ; and finding the coast still stretching to a great extent in an eastern direction, he imagined that he had at length discovered the great southern continent,--the Terra Incognita Australis,—which he at first called Staten Land, and afterwards New Zealand. Of this important country no farther account was taken till the year 1769, when, in the month of October, it was seen by Captain Cook, while engaged in his first circumnavigation of the globe. There is reason to believe, however, from certain communications made by the natives to this distinguished seaman, that some European ship had touched on the coast a short time before his arrival ; and as this visit was never reported in Eng

land, there is but too much reason to apprehend that the crew were massacred by the barbarous inhabitants.*

As Cook approached New Zealand from the east, he landed on the side opposite to that which had been surveyed by Tasman. At first he had to encounter the usual difficulties; nor was it until the fierce people had failed in an attack upon him and his two friends, Solander and Banks, and had experienced the fatal effects of firearms, that he succeeded in establishing a temporary intercourse with them. While employed in search of fresh water, in the interior of the bay, he met one of their fishing canoes returning from the sea, having on board four men and three boys. As soon as they perceived the English boats, they plied their paddles with so much activity, that they would have effected their escape, had not the captain ordered a musket to be fired over their heads, in the hope that this display of power would induce them to surrender. But in this expectation he was unfortunately disappointed; for although, on the discharge of the piece, they laid aside their paddles and began to strip, it was only that they might be prepared to meet their assailants and give them battle. Accordingly, as soon as they reached their enemies, they commenced the attack with their simple weapons; and so obstinate was the resistance made by them, that the encounter did not terminate until the four men were killed. On witnessing this catastrophe, the boys leaped into the water, whence, after considerable opposition, they were taken up and placed in the boat. At first they seemed to have no expectation but of instant death at the hands of their captors. Upon being kindly treated, however, and furnished with clothes, they soon laid aside their apprehensions, and even seemed to forget the fate of their countrymen who perished in the conflict. When

* In Cruise's Journal, p. 86, it is mentioned that he was told by one of the natives, an old man, of a ship that had been lost on the west coast, at a comparatively recent period. A boat's crew having gone on shore to trade for provisions, were, he said, cut off by the savages. See also The New Zealanders (12mo, Lond. 1830), p. 27.

dinner was set before them on board the Endeavour, they ate voraciously; and being encouraged by Tupia, a native of Otaheite, they even consented to entertain their captors with a song. Indeed, they would willingly have continued with their new friends, being afraid that, if put ashore by the English, their enemies would kill and eat them.” But the commander, resolved to afford no ground for the suspicion that he meant to kidnap the inhabitants, gave strict orders that the youths should be landed on the nearest point of the coast. He afterwards learned that no injury befell them, though committed to the keeping of a hostile tribe.

No one could regret more than Cook the melancholy result of the fortuitous meeting with the canoe, as just described. “I am conscious," says he, “ that the feeling of every reader of humanity will censure me for having fired upon these unhappy people, and it is impossible that, upon a calm review, I should approve it myself. They certainly did not deserve death for not choosing to confide in my promises, or not consenting to come on board my boat, even if they had apprehended no danger ; but the nature of my service required me to obtain a knowledge of their country, which I could not otherwise effect than by forcing my way into it in a hostile manner, or gaining admission through the confidence and good-will of the people. I had already tried the power of presents without effect; and I was now prompted, by my desire to avoid farther hostilities, to get some of them on board, as the only method of convincing them that we intended them no harm, and had it in our power to contribute to their gratification and convenience. Thus far my intentions certainly were not criminal ; and though in the contest, which I had not the least reason to expect, our victory might have been complete without so great an expense of life, yet in such situations, when the command to fire has been given, no man can restrain its excess, or prescribe its effect."*

* Hawkesworth’s Account of the Voyages of Byron, Wallis, Carteret, and Cook, vol. ii. p. 290. A motive of humanity in

Cook did not discontinue his researches until he had ascertained that the country is divided into two principal islands by the strait which still bears his name. The northern one is called by the natives Eaheinamauwee, the southern, Tavai Poenamoo ; contiguous to which last there is a smaller body of land which has not yet risen into any consequence. The whole are situated between lat. 34° and 47° S., and long. 166o and 180° E. The appearance of the coast is bold and rocky; in some parts the general aspect of the land is rather rugged ; and several of the mountains in Poenamoo are covered with perennial snow. In the other island, where the Europeans have established their principal settlements, the soil is in many parts extremely fertile, and capable of a very high degree of cultivation ; suited, it is supposed, not only to the growth of wheat and other grain, but also to the more delicate fruits and varied productions of the most genial portions of the temperate zones. The potato has been cultivated with great facility and advantage. Though but lately introduced by foreigners, it furnishes a valuable addition to the means of subsistence enjoyed by the natives, and also an article of sea-store to the numerous ships by which New Zealand is annually visited. Cattle, sheep, and poultry are also reared in abundance, proving at once a source of wealth to the poorer settlers, and an agreeable variety to the tables of the more wealthy. Moreover, the coasts are well stocked with several species of fish, which European skill has taught the inhabitants both to catch more plentifully and to cure with greater success. The climate is described as being both pleasant and salubrious. In Eaheinamauwee, the thermometer ranges from 40° to 80°; being a pleasant medium between the heat of the tropical regions and the sudden colds which affect the more variable sky of the temperate latitudes.*

duced Captain Cook to leave that part of the coast. “ As soon as we were drawn up on the other side, the Indians came down, not in a body as we expected, but by two or three at a time, all armed, and in a short time their number increased to about two hundred. As we now despaired of making peace with them, seeing that the dread of our small arms did not keep them at a distance, and that the ship was too far off to reach the place with a shot, we resolved to re-embark, lest our stay should embroil us in another quarrel, and cost more of the Indians their lives.”_P. 293.

While Cook was on the coast of New Zealand, a French ship, commanded by M. de Surville, was struggling with the high seas and boisterous weather which the English navigator has recorded in his usual graphic language. His reception by the natives formed quite a contrast to the spirit which they displayed towards the English. The chiefs bestowed upon the invalids of his crew the greatest attention. Naginoui, the lord of an adjoining village, surrendered his house for their accommodation, supplied them with the best food he could provide, and would not accept the smallest compensation. But this humane conduct was most cruelly requited. Surville having missed one of his small boats, probably lost during the storm, and suspecting that the inhabitants had stolen it, determined to be avenged for this supposed injury. Accordingly, seeing one of the chiefs walking on the shore, he invited him with many professions of friendship to come on board his ship; the other no sooner complied than he found himself a prisoner. Not satisfied with this outrageous treachery, he next gave orders that a village to which he pointed should be set on fire, and it was accordingly burnt to the ground. To aggravate the crime against personal freedom and property, this was found to be the very village in which his sick men had, a few days before, been so kindly received, and the leader whom he had inveigled on board the Saint Jean Baptiste was the generous Naginoui, who had acted towards them the part of the good Samaritan. The unfortunate captive was carried away from his own country by the stranger whom he had assisted, but he

* In an “ Account of the Settlements of the New Zealand Company,” by the Hon. H. W. Petre (Lond. 1841), the islands are named, beginning at the north, New Ulster, New Munster, and New Leinster.

« ForrigeFortsæt »